Career-best form not enough to save Australian
Although Saxo Bank Sungard went into Paris-Roubaix 'without pressure', the end result was ultimately disappointing for team leader, Baden Cooke.
Cooke had been vocal in the lead-up to the l'enfer du Nord, open about what he described as the best form of his career and telling Cyclingnews that there is "no reason why" he couldn't be one of the first 10 men across the line in Roubaix.
What resulted however, was the stuff of nightmares and will no doubt be of the ilk that haunts so many men that have taken on the Queen of the Classics. Cooke crashed twice and on the second occasion, the impact broke his shoe.
Compatriot David Tanner had guided Cooke into contention ahead of the Carrefour de l'Arbre but then when rounding a bend took his teammate out. Although, the worst was yet to come.
"I was in the front group," the 33-year-old told AFP. "There was only five guys in front of us on the Carrefour. And then [Manuel] Quinziato just dropped it in front of me.
"I couldn't brake in time and went banging down, snapped my lever, snapped the cleat off my shoe, so I kept riding with one foot for about two kilometres.
"I got almost across the next sector before the [team] car got to me. Jumped on a new bike, I already had my shoe off but they didn't have the shoe ready because they couldn't hear me. Then I rode for another couple of k's with one shoe. When they finally gave me the shoe .... it was virtually over for me."
Bjarne Riis could only praise the efforts of his team.
"It was an amazingly exciting race. The boys did a really good job but Baden [Cooke] was so unlucky to crash on the most demanding cobblestone section so he had to change shoes and then the race was over for his part but he looked very strong and it's really just too bad to finish the race like this," he said on the Saxo Bank Sungard website.
Domestique Kasper Klostergaard was devastated by Cooke's run of bad luck.
"We supported and helped Baden (Cooke) to enter Arenberg and delivered him to the front group which makes it too sad to see him crash in the finale. With his huge sprinting potential, he would possibly have been on the podium now if he had not crashed. As a team we did a perfect job. We followed the plan and it was pure accident that put us out of the race," he said.
Cooke finished in 22nd place, 3:43 behind winner, Johan Van Summeren.
Back to top